According to an article in the Guardian Friday, the police want to ban the sale of anonymous pay-as-you-go mobile phones. The rationale given for this is that drug dealers including organised gangs are using them. Presumably drug dealers also use knives and forks; should we ban them too?
You know what comes next, not only are they using such phones to hide their criminal activity but are exploiting vulnerable youngsters to do their dirty work. As the late Chris Tame was fond of saying, when they talk about protecting your children, what they really mean is destroying your rights.
The two things the police ask for most consistently in the UK are more money to be spent on fighting crime, including presumably paying them overtime, and more powers – ie more restrictions on personal freedom and more freedom for them to trample all over criminals, and if innocent people get trampled on as well as they frequently do, that is a price they are willing to pay.
In April last year, the Independent reported that more than 40% of reported crimes were being screened out due to budget cuts. Such reports are not difficult to find, and at times these include quite serious allegations. Yet the police can always find time and resources to investigate some allegations, even those that should rightly be dealt with by other means. Another Guardian article reported that thousands of juveniles under the age of 14 had been investigated for sexting, including a boy of 9 who was said to have been recorded on a police database for sending a naked selfie to a girl on Facebook Messenger, and a girl of the same age who was recorded as an “offender” for sending images to someone on Instagram. In England, a child of that age cannot be convicted of a criminal offence, parents are rightly held responsible, and do we really want to stigmatise a 9 year old girl for life as a “sex offender” instead of allowing her parents to deal with the matter, which is surely the correct way?
The reality is the police can always find the time and resources to pursue easy targets, especially when it is likely they will be able to dupe the bench or jury into convicting some poor sap. This is the case with allegations of sex crimes which are either trivial or historical, if not both. Two examples will suffice.
In the Operation Yewtree witch-hunt, the police received an allegation from a man that the entertainer Cliff Richard had sexually abused him in 1982. This resulted in South Yorkshire Police raiding his home while he was out of the country, and to make sure the world and his dog knew, they tipped off the BBC, which filmed the raid from a helicopter. Exactly what they were hoping to find on the premises remains to be seen, but the real purpose of the raid was to incite cranks, mischief-makers and attention-seekers to make false allegations against him. As another falsely accused showbiz personality Paul Gambaccini has pointed out, the man in the street may be known to a few dozen or a few hundred people, but a celebrity is know to hundreds of thousands, millions, perhaps many more than that. Some of these people have grievances against celebrities for all manner of irrational reasons. John Lennon was murdered by a “fan”; his former bandmate George Harrison nearly suffered the same fate when he was attacked by a lunatic at dead of night in his own home.
Fortunately, none of the allegations against either Cliff Richard or Paul Gambaccini were considered credible. One more example will suffice, this time not of a celebrity but of a businessman. In May 2017, David Pattinson met a woman in a London bar; this was a business meeting rather than a social one, but he decided not to employ her. Nearly two months later she attended a police station where she accused him of having wandering hands. He received a letter from the police and went along with his solicitor; after being grilled for an hour he was notified that he was being charged with common assault, ie lightly touching her neck while sharing a joke.
Later a charge of sexual touching was added, and when he appeared at the Crown Court he was told if he pleaded guilty to the assault charge, the sexual charge would be dropped. He declined, and the case went to trial, where what CCTV evidence there was coupled with witness evidence resulted in his acquittal. David Pattinson’s accuser appears to have been motivated partly by malice at not being hired and partly by ongoing psychological problems. People who have psychological problems often seek attention, and false allegations of sexual impropriety up to and including rape are typical feminine nastiness. The police and their collaborators in the legal establishment must surely have been aware of this, so why did they put a businessman with a spotless record through this ordeal over what would have been a triviality even had it been true? The time and effort put into this case could have been used to investigate and prosecute real crimes.
There’s the rub, real crimes are committed by real criminals who might be armed and shoot back or otherwise prove more trouble than they are worth. Many more examples of this kind of unwarranted harassment could be given. The Crimebodge website, which also has a presence on YouTube, has been monitoring police harassment of and misconduct against ordinary members of the British public since 2012. Its latest YouTube upload shows two uniformed police harassing a member of the public whose “crime” was watching people in a shopping centre.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.